Source: The Herald Sun, Saturday, February 3, 1996, p.5
By KYLIE HANSEN, family reporter VICTORIANS are using housekeeping money to finance an $89 million a week gambling habit. One of the big winners is Crown Casino, which has attracted 38 per cent of Victorians, with 15 per cent now regular casino customers. The Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority's third annual survey of community gambling patterns, released yesterday, shows almost half the gamblers dip into their daily household expenses to finance a flutter. And about a quarter of regular gamblers adjust the family budget so they can gamble. The study, conducted in June last year, is the first detailed account of the social impact of gaming since Crown Casino opened. It revealed: GAMBLING attracted 77 per cent of Victorians last year. MONEY for housekeeping costs is used for gambling by 45 per cent of gamblers. THE big winners were casinos-patronage is up from 7 per cent in 1994 to 21 per cent last year. ADULTS spend about $27 a week on gaming- though regular casino patrons spend $73 a week. THE casino is especially attractive to people born in Asia, those aged in their 20s, low-earning white-collar workers and people earning $35,000 to $50,000. A spokeswoman for the Interchurch Gambling Task Force, Bronwyn Pike, said the churches were extremely worried by the figures. "Our worst fears are con- firmed-a few individuals and the Crown Casino owners are in a gold rush and mining the citizens of this state," Ms Pike said. The State Opposition's gaming spokesman, Mr David White, said: "The casino control authority stands to be condemned for increasing table numbers from 200 to 350 and not taking into account this information and making it public." But the Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority chairman, John Richards said the figures showed a stabilised gambling population. A Crown Casino spokesman, Gary O'Neill, said: "It is immediately clear from this research that the impact of the casino has been nothing like the scaremongering by the State Opposition." Victoria's Minister for Gaming, Haddon Storey welcomed the figures and said they showed most Victorians gambled well within their means. AT A GLANCE VICTORIANS spend about $89 million a week on gambling. SEVENTY-seven per cent of adults have gambled in the past 12 months. ABOUT 38 per cent of Victorians have visited the Melbourne Casino. CASINO usage is up from seven per cent in 1994 to 21 per cent in 1995. CASINO users are prepared to spend the most gambling money (average $57 a visit). THE authority's calculated weekly gambling outlay for adults is $27 ($73 for regular casino patrons). FORTY-five per cent of gamblers said the source of gambling funds was housekeeping or living costs. SIXTY-three per cent said gambling was a serious social problem. MANY regular gamblers have cut back on leisure and clothing to pay for their habit. FIFTEEN per cent of Victorians are regular casino users (at least once a month). FIVE per cent of Victorians spend more than 25 per cent of their gross income on gambling.
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